Sister Bethany Madonna of the Sisters of Life sits down with Father Dave at the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis to discuss vocations and what she has learned about responding to God’s love.
Father Dave asks how she found the Sisters of Life. “I was at a pro-life conference surrounding the March for life,” Sr. Bethany explains. “I was not discerning religious life at the time. So I passed the sisters and gave them a thumbs up, like ‘we need people like you in this world.’ And I just kept walking. It wasn’t until years later I was on a ‘come and see’ retreat, and I walked into their convent and it was as if I’d been there before. It was an experience of home. It felt like home.”
Sr. Bethany shares highlights from her NCYC keynote address, which included imagery of the road to Emmaus story. “Two disciples are disappointed walking away from Jerusalem after Jesus’s death. And Jesus meets them on the way, talking to them and them recognizing him at the point when he broke the bread, they recognize him in the Eucharist.”
Sr. Bethany draws parallels between the Emmaus story and how we’re called to live our lives. “We are meant to be like that Host in the hands of Jesus offered to the Father,” she says. “We’ve been blessed by the very gift of life, but also by our consecration and baptism. We are broken because of the reality of sin. But we also recognize that we need to be broken open from the ways that we block guard or self-protect. And in that experience of brokenness, we can be poured out in gift. Once we’ve invited Jesus into that to shed healing, mercy, joy, we can become wounded healers.”
Sr. Bethany also reflects on Jesus multiplying the loaves and fishes, and the disciples’ initial reluctance to share the little food they had. “Jesus multiplies it. And I realized, we all feel like we don’t have something to give, you know? And he’s like give me what you have and let me multiply it for you. And nobody went away hungry. There’s 12 wicker baskets of leftovers. So it’s just recognizing I am a gift to be given. God has given me the gift of my life, the gift of my temperament, my personality, even my foibles and my, you know, quirks. And all of those things are a gift.”
One gift Sr. Bethany is particularly grateful for is the gift of her vocation, “I can’t tell you the privilege of being able to walk the streets of New York and hear people say, ‘Sister.’ They know my name, and every time my name is called, I know my relationship to them. I’m yours and you’re mine and I’m totally available to you. To be able to pray with people and walk with them emotionally, spiritually, is a beautiful gift.” (Original Air 11-25-19)